TAMPA BAY FL – Tampa Bay health departments are warning residents of a possible increase in mosquito-borne diseases following Tropical Storm Eta.
According to West Central Florida County Health Boards, mosquitos, which can carry diseases like the West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and dengue fever, rely on fresh water that Eta brought to the area to reproduce.
Local residents and businesses are reminded to take basic precautions to prevent mosquito bites and limit mosquito reproduction.
The following Florida Health Department tips are offered:
- “Drain and Cover” – Drain off standing water to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying. Drain water from trash cans, gutters, buckets, pool covers, refrigerators, toys, flower pots or any other container that has collected sprinkler or rainwater.
- Dispose of old tires, barrels, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances, and other items that are not in use. Empty and clean bird baths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarpaulins that do not collect water.
- Keep swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
- Cover the skin with clothing or repellent. Clothing – wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be needed for people who need to work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
- Repellants – Apply mosquito repellants to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellants according to the label. Repellants with DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, para-menthane diol, 2-undecanone and IR3535 are effective.
- Use a mosquito net to protect children under 2 months of age. Always read the directions on the label for approved use carefully before applying any repellant. Some repellants are not suitable for children. In general, products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, Ndiethyl-m-toluamide) are recommended. Other repellants approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency include picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, para-menthane diol, 2-undecanone, or IR3535. These products are usually available from local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients listed on the product label. Apply insect repellant to exposed skin or clothing, but not under clothing.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellants containing lemon eucalyptus orpara menthane diol oil should not be used in children under three years of age. DEET is not recommended for children under two months of age.
- Avoid putting repellants on children’s hands. Adults should apply the repellent to their own hands first, and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
- If additional protection is needed, apply a permethrin protectant directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitos out of your home. Repair defective shielding on windows, doors, verandas and patios.
For more information on which repellent is right for you, you can use the Environmental Protection Agency search tool when choosing skin protectants: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform